Why The $100 Million Police Body Camera Experiment ‘Isn’t Working’

Slashdot reader tedlistens writes: Without cellphone video, George Floyd’s death might have been what the Minneapolis police initially described in a statement as simply a “medical incident during a police interaction.” Fortunately, the officers were also filming the entire encounter on their body cameras, the result of a previous round of reforms aimed at reducing force and enhancing transparency. And yet, the public still hasn’t seen those videos: Like many states, Minnesota gives police wide discretion about when and how to release the footage, if at all.

It’s a pattern repeated at police departments across the country, and it adds to a growing chorus of questions about the actual impact of police video.

“We spent a king’s ransom on body cameras in this country, for accountability,” says Barry Friedman, a professor at New York University School of Law, and director of the Policing Project. But research shows that the cameras aren’t having their intended effects. And the devices raise other concerns about police reforms: Policies and laws keep videos from the public and allows cops to manipulate what gets captured on camera, while new technologies like live-streaming and face recognition are turning cameras into powerful street-level surveillance tools.

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